Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Orange Chicken and Lemon Tilapia

The Orange Chicken didn't turn out exactly how I'd imagined, but it was yummy :)  I found a Japanese blend of frozen veggies, I had some oranges on hand from Thanksgiving, and I went to town.
one or two oranges
a pound of diced chicken
soy sauce
stir-fry veggies - bean sprouts, onion, cauliflower, carrots, mushrooms, whatever.
a jar of baby food
prepared white rice - I do mine in a rice cooker.

Saute the veggies in some vegetable oil.  When most of the liquid has evaporated, add one or two tablespoons of soy sauce, cook for a minute and set aside.

Season the chicken with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and orange zest.  Saute in vegetable oil until completely cooked through, then add the juice of one orange.  Cook for a minute and add some soy sauce.  Just use your own judgement for the measurements; you know what you like.  The chicken should be a pretty brown color now, and should taste slightly sweet and salty.

Put a scoop of rice on a plate, top with veggies, and then with chicken.  Serve with a slice of orange.

The next night's meal was also good and very different.  I had some frozen spinach and fish fillets on hand, but not a lot of time because my husband was going to be home late so I had the girls under my feet.  In times like these it's better to use the oven.  Lemon Butter Tilapia:

4 tilapia fillets
one lemon
three tablespoons butter
one bag or box frozen spinach (if it's in a box, you'll need to defrost and drain first)
couscous, any flavor.  I use Near East brand.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 350.  Season one side of the fish with salt and pepper and place the fish on the paper, seasoned side down.  Season the other side with salt, pepper, and lemon zest, then squirt lemon juice all over the fillets.  Just try not to wash off all the seasoning.  Divide half a tablespoon of butter into four pieces and place the pieces on top of one fillet so they will melt evenly over the fish.  Do the same for each fillet, using 2 tablespoons total.  When your oven is hot, put the fish in it.  It should take about ten minutes, and then it will slide right off the parchment paper.  White fish should be white all the way through and a little flaky when fully cooked, but not dry.

Prepare the couscous as directed:  Bring 1 1/4 cups of water to a boil.  Add the couscous and seasoning packet, cover and remove from heat.  Let sit five minutes, then fluff with a fork.

Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a skillet and add the spinach.  Sautee until warm and season with salt and pepper.

Put a scoop of couscous in the middle of a dinner plate.  Top with a scoop of spinach, and then a fillet of fish.  Super yummy :)  We like a lot of lemon and a lot of pepper, but of course you can use less according to your tastes.

Much-Needed Chicken Noodle Soup

Pardon me for not blogging recently; I had family in town and you know how that is.  I would be totally back into the swing of things if we weren't all sick.  This cold weather does not agree with the Marks girls.  Last night we were all in need of a nice warm healing soup.  Soups are one of the easiest things to make.  They're cheap and they go a long way to feed a family.  I have suggestions for a thicker version if you need a heartier stew-like consistency to satisfy you.  This is my Chicken Noodle Recipe:

a pound of diced raw chicken (any part of the bird you happen to have)
half a pound of pasta, any shape
12 cups vegetable or chicken broth (or water plus bouillion cubes)
a can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
a bag of frozen veggies - "seasoning blend" OR two fresh diced carrots, two fresh diced stalks of celery, one diced red bell pepper, and one diced onion.
two jars of baby food - mixed veggie, carrots, or peas.
any of the following:  parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, basil, garlic powder, dill, bay leaves.

Honestly you could throw all of this in the pot, turn it on high and eat in fifteen minutes.  You don't need any oil if you do it this way and it will reduce the fat content.  But I like to babysit my cooking so this is what I do:

Sautee the veggies and the herbs and spices in olive oil for two to three minutes.  Add the baby food and four cups of broth, bring to a boil, and add the chicken.  Boil for a minute, add four more cups of broth and return to a boil.  Add the pasta and the beans, then cook for ten minutes or until the pasta is done.  Keep an eye on it and add more broth to your desired consistency.  I like really brothy soup so I use all twelve cups.  The pasta will absorb more water as it sits, so if you're eating it again the next day you will need to add more liquid anyway. Serve and enjoy!  Just don't eat the bay leaves.

My 3 year old loves soup and my one year old loves pasta so this recipe made the whole family happy, and will for several days.  It's extremely healthy, especially if you leave out the olive oil and use whole-wheat pasta.  There are so many veggies in here it's not even funny.

If you like a thicker soup, use a little less water and add a can of crushed tomatoes to give it a heartier consistency and flavor.  You could also add more baby food, or leave it out altogether if you don't have any on hand.

Another great thing about soups is they are so versatile and flexible.  If you don't have carrots, add mushrooms instead.  If you don't have chicken, add lentils for some protein.  Throw all your going-bad-ingredients in the pot and let it go.

A word on bouillion cubes if you're not familiar:  They are cheaper than prepared broth and take up a lot less space.  A jar of bouillion cubes makes like a truckload of prepared broth and that would not be pretty on your countertop.  I also like them because I don't have to know exactly how much broth I need before making the dish.  I can just keep adding water to the soup, and then add the appropriate number of bouillion cubes.  One cube in one cup of water makes one cup of broth.  I frequently drink straight broth for lunch, and can add more or less water to achieve the flavor I'm looking for.  If you make a lot of soups they are the better option in my opinion.